Dogs are one of America’s favorite house pets, second in number only to cats. The benefits of pet ownership are great. People who own dogs report lower levels of stress and higher levels of life satisfaction. However, many people who suffer from dog allergies go through life feeling that pet ownership is not for them. The good news is that dog allergies can be managed with a bit of planning and attention.
Picking the Right Breed
The first step to living with both allergies and pets is to pick a breed of dog that is least likely to exacerbate allergy symptoms. It’s a common misperception that some dogs are fur and dander free. However, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog. All dogs produce pet dander that can cause pet allergies.
That said, there are dogs who produce less dander than others. Poodles are well-known for being low-dander dog options. Other people report great success with Portuguese water dogs. Review several breeds to balance allergy management with other desired characteristics.
Reducing Allergen Exposure
The less an allergic person is exposed to their allergens, the less likely they will have allergy attacks. Those who have pet allergies should wash exposed skin after each pet exposure. Vacuuming frequently with HEPA-filter vacuum bags is a good way to keep pet dander off surfaces in the home. HEPA filters can also be added to air conditioning vents to remove dander from the air.
Good grooming habits for the dog often reduce the loose hair and dander that can cause or make an allergy worse. The dog should have regular daily brushing with regular baths using a quality dog shampoo.
Keeping pets out of the bedroom is one of the best ways to cut exposure and to reduce allergy symptoms. Bedding and carpets can harbor pet dander even after the dog has left the room. By keeping dogs off the bed and out of the room, less dander will be there in the first place. It is also a good idea to change clothing after playing with a pet and to take a shower before bed to avoid bringing in additional allergens.
No matter how careful a pet owner is, some exposure to pet allergens is inevitable. This is where careful symptom management comes in. There are a number of medical and non-medical options that can help control allergy symptoms when a sensitive person is exposed.
Antihistamines have come a long way since the first generation medications. Newer medications do not cross the blood-brain barrier, and are less likely to cause adverse symptoms like drowsiness. There are a number of antihistamines available over the counter or by prescription.
Nasal irrigation with a neti pot can also help with allergy symptoms without medication. The neti pot uses a saline solution to wash away irritants and to reduce inflammation of sinus tissue. Use as directed for best results.
Many people find that, with careful allergy management, they are able to enjoy the company of dogs without having to deal with allergy symptoms. By trying different techniques and planning carefully when an allergic individual is going to be exposed, they can get the benefits of dog ownership without dealing with the downsides.